World Bulletin / News Desk
Mayor of Thessaloniki, Yiannis Boutaris on Thursday said that Ottoman mosques in Thessaloniki may be opened to prayers.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara as part of the Turkish-Greek Tourism Forum, Mayor Boutaris indicated that it was up to the Greek government to open mosques to prayers.
"I consider myself a brother of the Turks. I consider myself a partner with the Europeans," Boutaris also said.
Mayor Boutaris commenced his speech by describing Thessaloniki and indicating the current restoration process of the city’s famous Freedom Square in which the Young Turks began to revolt, and the repair of the house in which Ottoman Sultan II. Abdul Hamid resided during his exile.
Boutaris was asked to assess the debates about the construction of a mosque in Athens and the restoration of Ottoman monuments in Thessaloniki.
The mayor responded “We have already illuminated the historical landmark known as the “Pazar Hamam” in order to beautify it and render it presentable. We also have a program for the other Ottoman monuments in Thesaloniki. A procedure has started for the old Alkazar cinema, the Bedesten covered bazaar. However, these are archaeological artifacts, we cannot do what we want, we must ask for permission. But we are agreed that these must be brought to a better state.”
Expressing that the issue of mosques is a task of the government, Boutaris said “As far as I know, a decision has been made in the direction of a mosque in Athens.”
After being asked whether the opening of Ottoman mosques in Thessaloniki was on the agenda, Boutaris responded, “They can be opened for worship over time. Of course this is something that is under the government's initiative. But the image has not yet come into full focus. This is also the case for other, not mosque sites, such as Muslim cemeteries.”